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Four recent Christian novels

Hidden Among the Stars

Melanie Dobson

When a current-day Ohio bookstore owner acquires an unusual copy of Bambi, her search for its original owner starts a chain of events that will change her life—and several others’—forever. Flashbacks to Nazi-occupied Austria tell of hidden treasures, a tragic love triangle, and Hitler’s evil plan to exterminate Jewish lives. Dobson expertly weaves together past and present to produce a fascinating connection between them. This lyrical story—poignant, yet hopeful—shows that, even though we don’t understand God’s whole plan, we each have our assigned part in His perfect design.

Called to Protect 

Lynette Eason

In this second book of the Blue Justice series, Chloe St. John and her K-9 partner join the team tasked with busting the human trafficking ring that’s probably behind her young cousin’s disappearance. Meanwhile, someone kidnaps U.S. Marshal Blake MacCallum’s daughter to use as leverage to force him to murder the judge he’s assigned to protect. Romantic—yet not cloying—tension exists between Chloe and Blake, but the excitement is in the search for the girls before they disappear forever. Eason handles well the heavy subject without being too graphic; no need to have read Book 1 first. 

The Fashion Designer 

Nancy Moser

This delightful sequel to The Pattern Artist continues the story of Annie’s new life in New York City. It’s 1912, a time when women are increasingly entering the workforce and marching for the right to vote. To accommodate changing attitudes and lifestyles, Annie and friends launch a clothing line for the “modern” woman. The characters find their faith stretched, and watch in awe as God provides steppingstones for each one. Historical details like the sinking of the Titanic and real-life characters like early clothing designer Lane Bryant help to make this a fun, compelling read.

The Heart Between Us 

Lindsay Harrel

At age 32, Megan receives a much-needed heart transplant and decides to complete the bucket list found inside her heart donor’s journal. A GoFundMe account enables her and her twin, Crystal, to embark on a whirlwind trip including Peru’s Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, London’s Buckingham Palace … the exhaustive list goes on and on. But don’t expect vivid descriptions of exotic places. It’s all about their individual hang-ups. On the bright side, the sisters eventually share a refreshed outlook on life, but all those fantastic backdrops are wasted on navel-gazing.

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Nevan Sesardic
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Books

Political follies

Against rule by philosophers and professionals

Neven Sesardic’s When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics (Encounter, 2016) is one of those thoroughly secular books that supports a crucial Biblical understanding: Not only our bodies but our brains are fallen and naturally sinful. 

Philosophy professor Sesardic shows how prominent philosophers “admired for their scholarly contributions actually abandoned reason altogether once they turned to politics.” He notes well-known examples: Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein championed Communism; Martin Heidegger and Kurt Gödel danced with Nazism; and Michel Foucault cheered on Iran’s Islamists. Particularly valuable are his chapters on those lesser known outside philosophical circles: Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, Michael Dummett, Hilary Putnam, Donald Davidson, and so on. 

Even Albert Einstein defended the murderous Josef Stalin at times. Sesardic asks how highly intelligent people could be so stupid and why “it is precisely such very smart individuals who are especially prone to exhibit certain types of irrationality? What if there are follies that often spare ordinary people while more easily afflicting exactly those who are exceptionally bright, highly educated, and presumed to be extraordinarily sophisticated?”

Economist Dambisa Moyo wrote Dead Aid, an excellent book on how not to help the African poor, but she falters in Edge of Chaos (Basic, 2018) as she proposes “weighting votes by voters’ knowledge of civics, age, or professional qualifications.” She proposes one vote for all but more for those who scored higher on a civics test. Or, “weighting could also be tied to one’s professional qualifications (such as certification as a doctor, teacher, lawyer, and so forth), employment status (such as being an administrator of a hospital, manager, or CEO), and level of educational attainment, on the assumption that excelling in these domains makes one more likely to make well-informed choices in the voting booth.” Does it? 

BOOKMARKS

David Bahnsen is my fine financial manager, so I will not praise his Crisis of Responsibility (Post Hill, 2018) as I otherwise would, except to say that he has excellent insights into housing, education, labor, and tax policy. 

Daniel Darling’s The Dignity Revolution (Good Book Company, 2018) doesn’t contend that we have dignity because of our reason: We have dignity because God made us, so we mess up when we imagine, unreasonably, that we made ourselves. Darling thoughtfully comes to grips with abortion, euthanasia, race, immigration, poverty, justice, sexuality, and marriage: He shows that evangelicals are and should be more than an interest group defending our turf. 

Anyone who yearns for a return to Obama administration foreign policy should read David Kirkpatrick’s Into the Hands of the Soldiers (Viking, 2018). The New York Times correspondent’s street-level look at the failure of Arab Spring in Egypt castigates the Obama administration for contributing to the return of authoritarian rule in Egypt.

John Lennox’s Determined to Believe? (Zondervan, 2017) comes down in the evangelical middle on questions involving God’s sovereignty, man’s freedom and responsibility, and faith. Daniel Ritchie’s My Affliction for His Glory (Kirkdale, 2018) is the story of how a man born without arms realized that God had given him dignity and creativity. 

The football season has begun, and Rob Maaddi’s Birds of Pray (Zondervan, 2018) profiles Philadelphia Eagles players including quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Foles describes his roller coaster ride to last year’s Super Bowl victory in Believe It (Tyndale, 2018). 

Anyone who takes Foles’ triumph as evidence for a prosperity gospel should read Paul Tripp’s journey through agony in Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, and anyone who thinks our purpose in life is to prosper economically should read Tripp’s Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts (both books are Crossway, 2018). 

John Perkins, the great proponent of racial reconciliation, knows that part of God’s purpose for us is to realize that all humans are “one blood, all created from one man, Adam”—and Perkins’ One Blood (Moody, 2018) has his “parting words to the Church on race.” —M.O.

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F.H. Buckley
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Books

Conservative class politics

Understanding Trumpism 

F.H. Buckley’s The Republican Workers Party (Encounter, 2018) is the best explanation of Trumpism that I’ve seen. President Trump himself used that “Workers Party” term at the 2017 CPAC conference to describe what he wanted the GOP to be, and Buckley (who has written speeches for Trump) doesn’t shy away from its Marxist sound—except that he calls himself a “right-wing Marxist” and says, “I see public policy questions through an economic prism.”

Here’s Buckley’s explanation: “I am a Marxist to the extent that I see America divided into different classes and think this is a revolutionary time. … It is like 1917, except that now it’s the Left that is counterrevolutionary, wanting to keep things as they are, unjust, unequal. … It wasn’t free-market capitalism that made us immobile. Instead, it was all the barriers to advancement that liberals created, through statutes and regulations that place a stumbling block in the path of those who seek to rise.”

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